Basic info

Arktika ABC

Arktika – What and When?

• Arktika is another word for the migration of Arctic water and shore birds from their winter homes in western Europe into their nesting areas by the Arctic Sea and in the north European and Siberian tundra.

• Arktika concerns millions of water birds, geese, and waders, not to forget divers and skuas.

• The main route of Arktika is through the Gulf of Finland serving as the primary line all the way to the route formed by Lake Ladoga, Lake Onega, and the White Sea. The most massive flocks that appear in Finland are concentrated in Virolahti region.

• Arktika begins at the end of April and continues to June. What is most impressive is the mass migration of barnacle geese and brant geese during the second half of May. Virolahti aims at timing the Arktika Days as close as possible to the average migration date of the geese.

• The largest flocks are made up of thousands of birds. The best time to observe them is early in the morning and late in the evening. When the weather is clear, the flocks fly very high. Many species migrate also in the night, which is when they have to be recognized by their sounds.

• The peak of the migration varies between species. The first one is the common scoter beginning around May Day with the red knot being the last one during the first week of June.

• In addition to enjoying Arktika, bird-watchers tend to be on the lookout for exceptional individuals that have arrived from elsewhere through warm air currents to rest on the coast.

• These warm air currents also contain a massive number of insects: butterflies, wasps, plant lice, etc. Their migration is not, however, as predictable as the one of the birds.

• This autumn: The number of birds is normally 2–3 times larger, depending on how successful their nesting has been. Their flying routes and schedules vary a lot, however. The male common scoters start their return in July with the last long-tailed ducks leaving only when it starts snowing in November

By Seppo Vuolanto